Love, Lies and Spies – YA in the vein of Jane Austen

Love, Lies and Spies – YA in the vein of Jane Austen

A fumbling miss, a gentleman spy, and some rather sweet romance complicated by misunderstandings, polite behavior, and enigmatic looks steer this genteel YA romance.  Fans of Jane Austen and YA historical fiction will enjoy this love story which uses the strictures of society to let romance blossom sedately.


Goodreads Summary

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

My Thoughts

The plot is rather predictable – Jane Austen comparisons give you a fairly good play book for how this story will go down.  The characters are equally predictable.  It won’t take readers long to spot the good guys and the villains in this work.  The pleasure is in the simplicity.  You feel warm and fuzzy when the polite and kind people get what they want and when the scheming jerks get their just desserts as well.  This isn’t a book for everyone, and it may not interest the average high school reader, but those closet romantics of the YA world will find plenty to sigh, both longingly and contentedly, about in this romp through high society and courtship rituals.  I do have to warn readers that Julianna, the heroine, initially comes across as a bit of a simpering ninny.  I really thought this was going to be a book that required me to tolerate the strange and eccentric humor I usually equate with the steampunk genre, but, happily, it evens out after a few chapters.  Julianna proved to be smarter and more resourceful that I anticipated.  While Spencer is no Mr. Darcy, he is certain to be the hero of many a young gal’s dreams, and the pairing of Julianna and Spencer is quite satisfying.  While my final impression was one of contentment and I felt spurred to read another Jane Austen inspired YA right after I put this one down, some readers will see this as a rather muted version of several popular regency romances.  I personally think that is a good thing, but if that isn’t your genre, or if you were reading romances for the racey bits, you might be disappointed by this sure-to-be-momma-approved, well behaved read.  Language and situations are appropriate for all ages, but interest level is high school and beyond.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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